CHAPMAN, Kan.—Abilene High School’s basketball teams ventured west in Dickinson County Tuesday night for their annual intra-county basketball showdown with their arch-rivals, the Chapman Fighting Irish.
The Cowgirls and Cowboys traveled back home after the twin bill of games after earning a split with their arch rivals. The Cowgirls opened the evening by coming back against the Lady Irish for a 57-32 win, the Cowboys, on the other hand, saw the Fighting Irish turn the tables on them and pick their own come-from-behind victory in 54-49 fashion.
The boys’ game was a completely different scenario for all involved. Abilene was the team that as the Cowboys were up 15-8 after the first quarter, 25-20 at intermission and 39-34 going into the final period before the Fighting Irish took over the final period, outscoring Abilene 20-10, for the 5-point victory.
"It was a great, great atmosphere tonight," Chapman boys coach Tony Ingram said of knocking off their arch-rivals on senior night.
In the girls game to open the evening Chapman led 7-2 with 6:11 still remaining in the opening quarter after Milea Anderson knocked down a 3-pointer.
But Anderson’s 3-pointer provided the Lady Irish with their largest lead all night as the Cowgirls outscored Chapman 50-30 over the remainder of the game.
The Lady Irish still led 17-13 after the first quarter, but Abilene outscored Chapman 16-3 in the second quarter, 12-4 in the third quarter and 16-8 in the final period to secure their 11th win of the season.
The win also clinches the No. 4 seed in next week’s sub-state tournament which means the Cowgirls will open the sub-state tournament by playing host to Buhler.
"I think tonight, for the second three-quarters it was all about defense," Abilene coach Janelle Geist said. "We really put a lot of pressure on them on the perimeter. We made them handle the ball and pick it up. Then we got some steals and they made some bad passes. I think the story for us was how well we played defense in the second, third and fourth quarters."
Belle Barberi led Abilene with 16 points while Nicole Taylor added 10 for the Cowgirls. Chapman was paced by Jordan Woods, who finished with 12 while Lindsay Hurford scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers.
"Right now we have assured ourselves of a winning record," Geist said. "I think that is a huge accomplishment in any season. Plus us winning, now that Buhler lost, that means we will host first round of sub-state. That is a huge advantage for us."
The Cowboys led throughout the entire first three quarters of the boys’ game, building as much as 7-point leads on multiple occassions but Abilene never was able to land the devastating blow as Chapman continually hung in the contest.
Then in the fourth quarter, which opened with Abilene having a 39-34 lead, the Fighting Irish began to find their range from beyond the 3-point line.
The two teams traded baskets through the first four minutes of the final period, but Abilene’s baskets were all 2-point field goals while Chapman was scoring 3-point shots.
Zach Heiman led Chapman’s charge in the fourth quarter by knocking down three 3-pointers. For the game Heiman knocked down four 3-points and finished with a game-high 20 points.
Heiman’s second 3-pointer of the final quarter tied the game, 43-43 with 4:46 remaining.
"We knocked down outside shots and played very solid defense," Ingram said. "We had some good rebounds late, we had a lot of tip ball deflections. And just plain ol knocking down shots. That is something that we have been missing for a stretch or a run of 6 or 8 or 10 or 12 points. Abilene has been a very strong team in our league, and strong team in the state. We got some boys that knocked down some shots and their confidence came and when their confidence came on the offensive end it came on the defensive end too."
That Irish defense limited Abilene to just 6 points over the game’s final 5:59 and Chapman put together an 11-1 run to turn a 43-41 deficit into a 54-45 lead and the Fighting Irish closed it out from there.
"We basically put up three words, we tell them to play hard, play together and play with great intensity," Ingram said. "The boys, we have been talking all year that we are a quarter away from playing a complete game, we are a half away from playing a complete game, we are a couple of possessions away from a complete game. Tonight, I think we put together our complete game tonight."
Logan Lehmkuhl added 14 points and was the only other Fighting Irish player, other than Heiman, to score in double figures for Chapman, who had only five players score in the contest.
Keil Kelly led the Cowboys with 13 points while Jacob Harms added 12 for Abilene.